You are currently viewing Blindfold Test of 9 Guitars Reveals #1 Thing That Matters

Last Updated on January 26, 2024 by Teemu Suomala

Picture this:

A young guitarist, blindfolded in a room filled with guitars, behind closed doors…sounds weird. But this was a reality for my guitar-playing neighbor Joonas recently, and the results can change how you buy guitars…

photo reveals owner of guitaristnextdoor.com

Author: Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I love guitars and have played dozens and dozens of different guitars through different amps and pedals over the years, and also, building a website interested me, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website.

I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have also been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as SongsterrMusicnotesGuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar.

I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog (I guess that went the right way…).

I took Joonas, a regular guy, a friend and neighbor of mine, who loves guitar and put him to the test. The mission? To feel, play, and listen – then guess the value of each guitar, from the budget-friendly to the high-end models. Prepare to be on the edge of your seat because what comes next in this story is something you simply can’t afford to miss…

How transform into a Party Jukebox everyone Admires in 5 days?

The Test

Here is our tester and the butt of my dog. I took better photos with a camera, but I forgot the camera in Finland…so I have to go with this photo I sent to Joonas’es wife when I demanded ransoms:

When I asked Joonas to play something blindfolded, do you know what did he say… “‘I can’t see why not!”…sorry, I just had to insert this here.

Also, do you know what Joonas learned from this experiment:

Let’s get (more) serious now…

First, Joonas was curious and a bit anxious when I blindfolded him, led him to my workspace and closed the door. “What have you got planned for me?” This was no ordinary day for him…

In front of Joonas were 9 guitars. Their prices? Ranging from a humble $150 to a plush $1499 Gibson. This was a lineup that spanned most of the guitar spectrum, from the budget-friendly to premium models. Only the really high-end models were left out.

Here are the guitars featured. What do you think…which looks the cheapest, and which looks most expensive? Leave your valuation in the comments.

The guitars featured in this test.

Without seeing the guitars, Joonas had to play each guitar and guess its price. Telling if something’s expensive or not without looking at it can be more challenging than it seems…

I agree, each of these guitars has a different feel. But with the sound, differences were more subtle, and I noticed Joonas did most of the guessing based on feelings (later reveal how I know this)…

For 1 of the cheapest models, Joonas guessed a whopping $631 larger price tag. The Gibson, Joonas down-valued. The biggest surprise for me was the PRS since I think it feels more expensive than it is…

Let’s check the results now.

The Results

Remember, this isn’t about creating fun content to consume. The purpose of this whole experiment is to equip you with insights that could potentially change how you think about the price and quality of guitars and save you a ton of money. Check this out…

GuitarGuessReal Price as New
Epiphone Les Paul Studio$399$549
Epiphone SG Standard$399$499
Donner DTC 100$400$150
PRS SE Custom 24$680$849
Epiphone Les Paul Custom$699$799
ESP LTD MH-400$800$799
Epiphone Les Paul Studio E1$900$269
Fender American Performer Stratocaster (review)$1100$1399
Gibson Les Paul Modern Lite (review)$1300$1499

It was surprising that Joonas was spot on with the price of my 10-year-old ESP. It has clearly aged pretty well. And overall, I think he was really accurate. But he valued Epiphone Les Studio E1 a lot more than it is, you might want to test that if you are on the lookout for a new Les Paul.

BTW. If you are just starting out, check how to learn guitar in 30 days (20min/day) here.

Before we dive into the stuff that can really save you $$$, let’s check 1 additional test we did…

The Look Test Results

I added some extra spice to this mix…after I released Joonas from his blinds, I let him look at each guitar, without touching them, without seeing the brand name, and again, he had to guess the price of the axes. Check the results:

GuitarGuessReal Price as New
Donner DTC 100$300$150
Epiphone Les Paul Custom$699$799
ESP LTD MH-400$800$799
Epiphone SG Standard$800$499
Epiphone Les Paul Studio$900$549
Epiphone Les Paul Studio E1$900$269
Gibson Les Paul Modern Lite$1200$1499
Fender American Performer Stratocaster$1200$1399
PRS SE Custom 24$1400$849

Again, Joonas guessed the price of 1 of the cheapest guitars to be $631 more than in reality. And with my beloved ESP, he again was pretty much spot-on (good job).

I bet this was interesting (share if you think so, it is the only thing I ask. Google and big tech shadow ban us all the time), but this was not just a fun test, how can you use this info to save money when buying guitars…

What We Can Learn

The results? They’re a wake-up call for every guitar buyer out there.

First off, let’s tackle the elephant in the room: price does not always match quality. We saw it firsthand. Some of the cheaper guitars held their own, tricking Joonas into thinking they were closer to the high-end stuff. Why?

Because almost always, what you’re paying for isn’t just the guitar – it’s the name, the marketing, the fancy words that make you think it’s better.

And the reality is, that most budget guitars nowadays are awesome. All that most players are ever going to need.

And the expensive guitars? Here’s the shocker: some of them didn’t quite live up to their hefty price tags (they did pretty well tho). I especially found Joonas down-valuing feel and sound of the PRS really surprising.

This is where the guitar industry needs a reality check. They’ve been playing a game, using shiny ads and fancy words to make us think that more expensive always means better. But guess what? It doesn’t. And this test proves it.

So, what are the KEY takes from this?

Simple: trust your own hands and ears, not the price tag or the ad. Don’t get swept away by the brand name or the hype. Sometimes, a less expensive guitar can give you everything you need and more.

Go to the guitar store and do not even look at the price tags and brand names. Grab a guitar that resonates with you, and test how it plays and sounds. Then check if the price makes sense (sometimes you find a real steal, sometimes you find an overpriced axe).

Maybe I should go like this to a guitar store next time…?

I just did a little trick on purpose by the way…

I bolded the words “hands” on purpose…because here comes the #1 thing that matters on guitars…

The FEEL. I noticed that Joonas clearly valued the guitars mostly based on the feel of the guitars. How do I know? I let him give 1 guess after just playing unplugged and then another when plugged in. And the results surprised me…

Only 1 time did Joonas change the estimation. He first valued the cheap Donner at $300 and changed it to $400 after hearing how it sounded (it’s a good-sounding guitar btw.).

In a nutshell, be bold in your choices. Challenge the norms. Don’t let the industry’s sneaky marketing tactics dictate what you buy. Be smart, be savvy, and remember – the true value of a guitar isn’t in its price, but in how it feels in your hands and sounds to your ears. Let’s shop smarter.

To find 1 crucial tip so that you can do so, check the conclusion…

Conclusion (And How to Protect Yourself)

And there we have it – the end of a journey that opened my eyes even more. Hopefully it did the same for you. Again, if you found this valuable, please share it. We get shadow-banned all the time by Google and other big tech, since we are independent Guitar mag speaking the truth (they clearly want to suppress the smaller guys).

And if you want to protect yourself from the sneaky practices of the guitar industry…Most brands do indeed have hands deep in our pockets after all or at least they reach into your pockets…

Subscribe to our newsletter. It’s your insider guide, your shield against the hype, and your tool to make informed, smart decisions. You are going to like it.

Teemu Suomala

I first grabbed the guitar in 2009. I started this website in January 2020 because I couldn’t do window installation anymore due to my health problems. I also noticed that most guitar websites don’t do a really good job, so I decided to just go for it! I got lucky and managed to get awesome people to help me with my website. I also got lucky because I have you visiting my website right now. Thank you. I do all this for you guys. If you have any recommendations, tips, or feedback, just leave a comment, I would love to chat with you. I have been fortunate to produce content for several large guitar websites, such as Songsterr, Musicnotes, GuitarGuitar, and Ultimate Guitar. I spend my spare time exercising and hanging out with my wife and crazy dog(I guess that went the right way…). Expertise: guitar learning techniques, electric guitars, and guitar amplifiers. You can connect with me on LinkedIn or just email me.
0 0 votes
Article Rating
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
2 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Pranshu Nigam

Very interesting! I haven’t seen an experiment like this before. Surprising to know that he didn’t value a single guitar under 400 bucks. Just tells me how good cheap guitars are nowadays.

Justin Thomas

It doesn’t surprise me that the PRS SE got bumped on the looks. I am surprised that it got downplayed on the playing, but I notice that it wasn’t anywhere nearly as much as was for the other brands.

Big surprise on the Donner. I got into trouble when writing for a guitar publication when I wouldn’t tear the brand apart when asked to. I had no experience to back it up.

Overall, I am sad that I don’t like Les Paul’s or I’d buy that Epiphone tomorrow…and it is so nice to be working here now!